Lake Lanier’s water level has fallen slightly again this week. Currently the lake level is at 1,066.14 or 4.86 feet below the normal full pool at 1,071. The main lake and mouths of the creeks are clear. The backs of the creeks and rivers are slightly stained to stained. Lake surface temperatures have only dropped several degrees and are around the mid-80s.
The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear except after the afternoon thunderstorms. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass fishing has been better this week. If you can fish in the right areas at the right times you can catch them well, but there is always that big “if.” Some days the drop shot, jig or under spin/swimbait combo has ruled, while on other days, power fishing with large top water plugs or surface swimbaits has ruled the hour.
I was reminded this week that if there is any way to catch bass power fishing, then I am all in. I will stow my drop shot rod completely if I know we can get one or two bigger fish in an area with a topwater lure. The surface temperatures are dropping, so be aware that there are bass and stripers starting to appear on the surface. This action has been best during the middle of the day.
A Super Spook in shad patterns has been a great lure when the wind is blowing hard or a front passing through. No one should ever fish in an electrical storm, but before and during regular rains the fish have gotten active out over windblown points and humps on main lake and in the creek mouths. These fish will tend to be larger than the drop shot fish we have been catching.
If there is just a light ripple on the water, try casting a slow sink BBZ1 in Citrus Shad color and impart starts and stops during your retrieve. Use these same lures anytime the CORPs pull water.
During the calmer times or when the fish won’t bite on top the drop shot or a small jig with a three-inch Fighting Frog are the go-to lures to catch a few keepers. You can also cast a Big Bite Suicide Shad on a SPRO Buck Tail or underspin for any fish suspended over brush, rock or around the deeper docks.
The same small jig and Fighting Frog trailer has been working well on rock bluff walls in the pockets and creeks. These jigs either imitate crawfish or smaller bream and will produce some good bites stair stepped down the deeper ledges.
Night fishing with a Fat Papa 70 or RkCrawler Crankbait has been starting to work well. Also try a black and blue jig and trailer combo or a large black Colorado bladed spinner bait. Make sure to add a rattle to your jigs. Keep all of the lures in contact with the bottom down to 20 feet, then retrieve them slowly as a lot of the bites we have been getting happen on the retrieve back up through the water column.
Stripers: The trifecta of summer fishing for striper continues to work well, but there are some changes occurring. Trolling, jigging and live herring are all putting fish in the boat this week.
I have started to see a few pods of mostly small stripers on the surface this past week, but they appear and disappear quickly.
As the water temperatures start to drop to around 80-and-below, this action should increase. I have not said this in a while, but keep a casting lure ready like a topwater plug, jerkbait or a SPRO Buck Tail to cast to any schooling fish you see on top.
Trolling has worked about as well as any technique right now.
Most Lanier captains have gotten used to trolling buck tails or umbrella rigs, and there is good reason why because they produce but some anglers are having luck trolling spoons, jerk baits and even swimbaits. You can use lead core line or a Cannon Down rigger to get these lures down to that 25 to 35-foot range where the bites are occurring now.
Many factors affect how deep a lure runs on lead core line. The weight of the lead core, the weight and bulk of your lure, the amount of line let out and the speed of the boat. If you can afford to hire a guide to show you their set up, you may save money and time in the long run doing so.
With a down rigger you can basically get by with normal striper gear. Simply clip your line to the release, set your down rigger to the desired depth and run your boat around 2.5-to-3 mph. You can fish a variety of lures, so your choices are endless.
Just make sure if you're using a hard bait with a bill that it is tuned properly. Use the same method that you would on a crankbait. If the lure runs or spins to the left, use needle nose pliers and gently bend the lure eye to the right (or opposite direction) until the lure runs true.
The two biggest hurdles to live bait fishing are finding and staying over a school of fish and then keeping enough herring to keep a lively bait on your hook. The oxygen levels and surface temperatures are hard on herring. Switch your baits often and buy several dozen more than you think you will need.
The fish have been biting from 30-to-80 feet deep this week.
Keep a Ben Parker Spoon, Suicide Shad on a jig head or Chipmunk Jig ready and fish these lures while down lining herring. You can also use these same lures exclusively if you run out of or don’t have bait. Don’t leave home without them!
Crappie and bream: Crappie fishing has been hit or miss. Some anglers are fishing down lined live minnows and small jigs in brush piles from 15-to-25 feet deep. Stick with the light fluorocarbon you can get away with. You would be surprised how many fish you can land on two-pound test plus it gets down and stays down better than heavier line.
After dark, use your own Hydro Glow lights around docks and on the bridges in the backs of the creeks and up river or target docks that already have them (if the owner isn’t already fishing them). Jigs or minnows will both work well around the seven to 15-foot range.
Bream fishing has been fair. Your best bet is a worm or cricket under a float or try suspending them about seven to 10 feet under your dock.
Trout fishing is OK on the Chattahoochee River and the mountain streams and rivers. The morning bite remains best, but there has been a good afternoon bite in some areas where small insect swarms are occurring. Just because you don’t fly fish do not ignore this activity. If the insects are up over the water and the trout are rising, they will also hit spin casting lures and bait. Live earth worms (where permitted by law) are a good bet after any rain storms.
Bank Fishing: If you are new to fly fishing, then it may be worth a try starting out bank fishing for bream with this technique. Many people are intimidated by fly fishing but I caught my first fish (a bream) on a fly my first time out.
Back then we didn’t have all the digital resources like YouTube and the Internet, so today’s generation should be able to shorten the learning curve. You can buy an inexpensive, complete set up to test and see if this type of fishing suits you. I am a hack at best, but still love this true angling art form. So give it a try!
Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer, marketing specialist and bass angler. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. He would love to hear from his readers so please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com or lakelanierfishing.info. Remember to take a kid fishing!